Rivers Ecology specialise in designing and creating Integrated Constructed Wetlands (ICW’s). These wetlands are built (constructed) to fit (integrate) into the landscape and provide a wide range of benefits, including biodiversity, water storage and pollutant removal.
In Norfolk, nutrient removal is a particular priority because of the damage that excess nutrients cause to protected watercourses such as the River Wensum and the Broads, by encouraging blooms of algae that outcompete other life and damage the ecosystem. Rivers Ecology design ICW’s to address this particular issue and have created wetlands that process effluent from sewage treatment works. This effluent is generally nutrient rich and our wetlands work to reduce nutrients before returning to the river, therefore reducing downstream environmental damage.
In comparison to traditional nutrient removal techniques used by water companies, wetlands are much less carbon intensive and are generally cheaper to keep in working order as well, providing both a financial and climate benefit.
ICW’s have been proven to increase both the number of different species in the area whilst also supporting increased amounts of the wildlife already present. For example, marsh harrier, barn owl, sandpiper, grasshopper warbler, water vole, willow emerald damselfly and a wide range of other wildlife have all been spotted at the ICW’s we have created in Norfolk.
Alongside these increases in biodiversity, social benefits can also be gained, with ICW’s and their surroundings providing ideal space for education and recreation activities such as walking, horse riding and bird spotting. Spending time around wetlands has also been shown to be beneficial to mental health, while research also shows that wetlands also have economic benefits, with houses overlooking wetlands increasing in value! In certain circumstances, ICW’s can also help to manage water levels downstream by acting as a ‘buffer’, holding water before it enters the stream and helping to reduce local flood risk.
Rivers Ecology have extensive experience in designing and delivering integrated constructed wetlands for a variety of purposes, including the Ingol Wetland, which recently won ‘Net Zero Carbon Initiative of the Year 2020’ at the Water Industry Awards. To contact us about our wetland services, contact us.
Written by Liam Hall, a Project Manager at Rivers Ecology.